By Pablo Mayo Cerqueiro
LONDON, March 8 (Reuters) - Volta Trucks, the electric-truck maker backed by billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli, is in advanced discussions to raise as much as 250 million euros ($263.58 million), its CEO told Reuters.
The Swedish start-up, whose clients include DB Schenker and Petit Forestier, is working with advisers at Perella Weinberg Partners to secure the funds, in what it hopes will be its last equity raise before an initial public offering (IPO) as soon as next year, Chief Executive Essa Al-Saleh said.
Talks involve corporate investors and large asset managers, Al-Saleh said, adding that existing shareholders may also take part in the funding round.
Volta Trucks is gearing up to roll out its electric trucks, after delays in obtaining certification for its vehicles and constraints in sourcing supplies held up production, according to a company spokesperson.
The company just months ago tapped investors for around 300 million euros in a deal that valued it at close to 600 million euros.
Al-Saleh declined to give a valuation for the ongoing raise as terms are not yet final.
Volta Trucks' existing backers include Kuwaiti supply-chain services provider Agility Public Warehousing Co, Bertarelli's family office B-Flexion, Swedish investor Byggmastare Anders J Ahlstrom and U.S. hedge fund Luxor Capital.
A spokesperson for B-Flexion said the investor remains "wholly committed" to Volta Trucks, but declined to comment further.
Byggmastare and Perella Weinberg declined to comment, while Agility and Luxor did not respond to requests for comment.
Volta Trucks should break even by early 2025, according to Al-Saleh. He added that the company plans to expand into the United States in two or three years.
The group is set to start commercially producing its 16-tonne Volta Zero urban electric truck early next quarter, with 90 million euros of customer orders placed for 2023 so far, Al-Saleh said, adding that the necessary parts have now been sourced.
The company has 1.5 billion euros worth of pre-orders for this and future models for the coming years, according to Al-Saleh.
Venture capital funding for European start-ups contracted 18.6% last year from 2021's record levels on the back of soaring interest rates and the Ukraine conflict, according to PitchBook data.
Electric-vehicle start-ups are also competing with corporates to attract investors.
In February, Switzerland's ABB sold a 12% stake in its electric vehicle charging arm E-mobility to investors including General Atlantic and Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC for 325 million Swiss francs ($344.97 million).
($1 = 0.9485 euros) ($1 = 0.9421 Swiss francs) (Reporting by Pablo Mayo Cerqueiro; Editing by Elisa Martinuzzi and Shounak Dasgupta)